The prevalence of asthma continues to increase in westernized countries, and optimal treatment remains a significant therapeutic challenge. Recently, CD1d-restricted invariant NKT (iNKT) cells were found to play a critical role in the induction of airway hyper-reactivity (AHR) in animal models and are associated with asthma in humans. To test whether iNKT cell-targeted therapy could be used to treat allergen-induced airway disease, mice were sensitized with OVA and treated with di-palmitoyl-phosphatidylethanolamine polyethylene glycol (DPPE-PEG), a CD1d-binding lipid antagonist. A single dose of DPPE-PEG prevented the development of AHR and pulmonary infiltration of lymphocytes upon OVA challenge, but had no effect on the development of OVA-specific Th2 responses. In addition, DPPE-PEG completely prevented the development of AHR after administration of a-galactosylceramide (α-GalCer) intranasally. Furthermore, we demonstrate that DPPE-PEG acts as antagonist to α-GalCer and competes with α-GalCer for binding to CD1d. Finally, we show that DPPE-PEG completely inhibits the α-GalCer-induced phosphorylation of ERK tyrosine kinase in iNKT cells, suggesting that DPPE-PEG specifically blocks TCR signaling and thus activation of iNKT cells. Because iNKT cells play a critical role in the development of AHR, the inhibition of iNKT activation by DPPE-PEG suggests a novel approach to treat iNKT cell-mediated diseases such as asthma.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy